Posted by Jeff Condon on October 5, 2011
The AMSR-E satellite just lost its ability to spin stabilize. I’m not an expert on its funcitons but it had a high RPM rate previously which suggests a need for axial alignment. This means that solar panels need to rotate in the opposite direction with similar speed and torque compensators must operate to prevent friction from changing the total spin rate. So the thing had to stop spinning. What the subsystems are comprised of is also beyond my knowledge but it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that a number of VERY critical global doom timeseries are likely to have unfortunate steps introduced into them. Some scientists will lose months or years of work in re-aligning the next satellite with the previous accurately and there will always be questions. The first huge opportunity for atmospheric temperature consistency has been lost because we weren’t wealthy enough (or smart enough) to have the second instrument in space before the first failed. This first one was apparently scheduled to fail 3 years ago. Sounds like typical government to me.
If you are going to chuck trillions down the left side of the toilet, you would think measuring the parameters of doom might take a few hundred million dollar preference. Think of the few hundred millon as a penny from a hundred dollars.
Nope, don’t know why we wouldn’t spend that bit. No, this is not a critique of the scientists, it is a critique of the government so willing to both steal and spend the trillions.
Really though, time series trends which are so sensitive to steps is very bad news. Yes there are other data sources, but this particular satellite was a huge forward step in capability. Hopefully, its value won’t be lost by this. Some functions remain, although I expect that their quality will be compromised.
Roy Spencer’s blog is the place to address questions. Corrections or additions to my limited knowledge on this are appreciated. For instance: What is the scope of the data actually lost?